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Keith Ray

Professor Keith Ray

Honorary Professor in Archaeology

School of History, Archaeology and Religion


I have had 50 years’ active involvement in archaeology, both through an academic career (PhD Cambridge, 1988, on the archaeology of Igbo Ukwu, eastern Nigeria), and a teaching post in the University of Nigeria (1982-4), and through hands-on professional conservation and outreach employment. Between 1989 and 2014 I worked as an Archaeological Officer in Oxfordshire and then Plymouth, and then as County Archaeologist in Herefordshire (see ‘biography’ tab). I have undertaken fieldwork in southern Britain (especially, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Herefordshire), in Scotland (Aberdeenshire, Arran, Stirlingshire), and Wales (Ceredigion). I have worked overseas in France, Norway and West Africa.

I currently work part-time as an archaeological consultant (Director, Southern Marches Archaeological Practice, Hereford), but otherwise I am actively engaged in research (see ‘Research’ tab) and in writing (see ‘Publications’).


Selected recent publications:

  • 2018 a (with Julian Thomas) Neolithic Britain: The transformation of social worlds (Oxford University Press)
  • 2018 b ‘Herefordshire in Roman Britain’, 83-114 in Roger White and Mike Hodder (eds) Clash of Cultures? The Romano-British Period in the West Midlands (Oxbow)
  • 2018 c ‘Material Metaphor’ entry in S Lopez-Varela The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences eMRW (Wiley)
  • 2017 (with Peter Dorling and Paul White) ‘Herefordshire: from the Middle Bronze Age to the Later Iron Age’, 70-84 in Derek Hurst (ed) Westward on the High-Hilled Plains: The Later Prehistory of the West Midlands (Oxbow)
  • 2016 ‘Prehistoric and Roman Hereford’ and ‘Anglo-Saxon Hereford’, 1-28 in Andy Johnson and Ron Shoesmith (eds) The Story of Hereford (Logaston Press)
  • 2016 (with Ian Bapty) Offa’s Dyke: Landscape and Hegemony in Eighth Century Britain (Windgather/Oxbow, Oxford)
  • 2015 The Archaeology of Herefordshire: An Exploration (Logaston Press)

Current publication projects:

I am currently editing/co-writing a series of monographs for the series Herefordshire Studies in Archaeology (Archaeopress, Oxford) arising from the project-based fieldwork of Herefordshire Archaeology (and some archaeological contractors) between 1999 and 2010.


I have active research interests in the following areas:

  • Archaeological interpretive theory, especially concerning material culture and social practice, material metaphor, and temporality
  • Neolithic Britain
  • The archaeology of the early church in Wales and the Marches
  • The landscape history and archaeology of Herefordshire
  • Offa’s Dyke and the archaeology and history of Anglo-Saxon Mercia and Wales

Current research projects:

  • Beneath Hay Bluff/Dorstone Hill prehistory project (co-Directed with Professor Julian Thomas, Manchester University)
  • Offa’s Dyke (in progress and in development, currently involving ‘impact’ field surveying and excavation, in part with local heritage groups, especially in Flintshire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire)



  • MA (Archaeology and Anthropology) Cambridge University, 1977
  • PhD (Archaeology) 1988


  • Director, Ceredigion Archaeological Survey Project, St David’s University College, Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales (1986-88)
  • Archaeological Officer, Oxfordshire County Council Museums and Libraries Service, County Museum, Woodstock (1989-91)
  • City Archaeological Officer, Plymouth City Council (1992-98)
  • County Archaeologist, Herefordshire Council (1998-2014)
  • Director (p/t), Nexus Heritage archaeological consultancy, Chester (2014-17)
  • Director (p/t), Southern Marches Archaeological Practice Ltd, Hereford (2017-)

Honours and awards

  • 2005 Member, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
  • 2006 Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London
  • 2007 MBE (New Years Honours list, 2007, for services to archaeology in Herefordshire)